Cairo, Egypt Report of what it's like to live there - 11/10/20
Personal Experiences from Cairo, Egypt
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Yes, Cairo was my first expatriate experience, so I don't have any points of comparison.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Long flights back to the States, mostly routed through Frankfurt.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
Approximately 20 months.
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Diplomats have a different housing situation than others might. I was in one of the larger diplo-dorms. There are a few of these with different commute times, but the housing is decently size and has the amenities that make living comfortable.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
If I shop entirely locally, there are limitations and quality concerns, on top of the obvious difficulty of finding good alcohol and pork products. Again, diplomats have a leg up here. Still, there are plenty of shops with enough variety to make a go of it for the majority of dishes and tastes I've desired to prepare.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are a plethora of options here using talabat, the replacement for Otlob. There are plenty of culturally diverse food options, but the consistency and quality is not always there.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Don't be surprised to see ants.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I don't use the local post, but the DPO is slow and takes many weeks for transit. Patience is a virtue.
2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
I had no problems using ATMs that I encountered. This was not always the case with others, but I don't know of anyone that had their info skimmed.
3. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
My arabic is pretty terrible, but it's not something that I've found I've needed to rely on too much in the local area. A little bit goes a long way though. So, it's helpful to have.
4. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Oh yeah, Cairo is not handicap friendly.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Ubers are great. Taxis will definitely try to overcharge you if you've got the foreign look.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
"High-speed" internet is available, but limited to 12-14mbps - families will struggle with this bandwidth when streaming or downloading.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
I haven't had any real medical care needs here, but I have had an elective procedure and dental work done. It hasn't been an issue, but a major surgery or accident would definitely have me looking for a medivac.
2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
It's bad overall, and worse in the winter. People react to it differently, but it's suffice to say that the air quality is poor and is unlikely to improve.
3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It's Cairo! Think Pyramids, sand, take a guess! Hint: you won't need an umbrella, but a winter coat may be justified.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Cairo has a large expat community, morale is generally high and there's plenty of people to interact with if you turn over enough stones to find them.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Internations helps with events for all sorts of crowds. Know where the nightlife is, use other platforms for finding people that will help you find your social niche.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
As a single person, it's been fairly good. It's not a literal desert, but as others have noted it is a predominantly Islamic culture which is at odds with many western dating values. Still, there are plenty of options and opportunities for friendship, romance and other connections, both within and without the local population.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Guys don't seem to have many problems, ladies, on the other hand, seem to be prone to harassment, especially if not dressed conservatively.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
The large souqs / bazaars offer opportunities for all sorts of trinkets and furnishings. You're unlikely to pay the "local" price though.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Sure, I've enjoyed it here and wouldn't mind being here longer. There's no shortage of things to do or people to interact with, but that said I don't have another experience as a good point of reference. IE. I don't know if I'd rather live here, or somewhere else!
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Raincoat and skis.
3. But don't forget your: